Amsterdam to operate own recycling program

Amsterdam will begin collecting recyclables on its own instead of contracting with a private company

Amsterdam will begin collecting recyclables on its own instead of contracting with a private company under a plan that will add two employees and still save the city some money.

City Engineer Richard Miller detailed estimates of a program Tuesday and told the Common Council’s Solid Waste Committee that two additional DPW employees are needed anyway.

The plan is to have recyclables picked up every other week and have the new workers help other DPW crews on the off weeks.

The city’s contract with County Waste, which handles recyclable materials, runs through March, and officials gathered several bids from private companies in anticipation of hiring another company to continue the work.

But it appears the city could do the work itself for less money.

Miller broke the costs down for the three months up to the end of the current fiscal year and then the costs for the 2011-12 budget year.

There is roughly $47,019 left in the current year’s recycling expenses budget, and adding two employees, fuel and vehicle repair costs would still leave $15,515 to roll over, according to the estimates.

The DPW is estimating next year’s recycling budget at $170,000 if the city contracts with a firm, but the city with two new workers could do the job for an estimated $148,000.

Despite the potential savings, Solid Waste Committee Chairman William Wills said it’s likely the city will have to purchase a truck within the next two years for the work. The DPW has two trucks that can be used, but one of them may need replacement, he said.

In unrelated business Tuesday, several people — some of them city employees involved in trash collection — spoke against changes proposed for the city’s solid waste ordinance.

The ordinance would increase fines for people leaving bulk items like furniture and refrigerators while making the owner of a property responsible for something left out in front of their house — even if it wasn’t their junk.

Currently these items are handled in two ways. People can go to City Hall to drop off a payment and have an item like a washer or dryer picked up on collection day.

Or, in some cases, people unaware of the process who leave things out will find a green sticker on them with instructions to contact City Hall and pay, after which the item will be picked up.

Changes to the ordinance call for items left outside to be automatically picked up, and then the property owner billed for them. It also increases the penalties for multiple violations of the solid waste ordinance — not just for bulk items but for regular household trash, as well.

DPW general foreman Ray Halgas said the measure would require more paperwork and labor and produce only limited revenue.

“I’m really not for it,” he said.

DPW sanitation supervisor Joseph Baia said recently there were 15 residential bulk items found on the curb and all were tagged with the green sticker. Within a week, residents responsible for half of those items came into City Hall and paid for the pickup, he said.

Baia said when people are aware of the process, they often comply. “Without giving them notice, it’s too fast,” he said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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